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A NEW NORMAL: Chronicles of a street vendor during COVID- 19

It is with no doubt that there has been an unmissable shift in the world.  The novel Coronavirus known as COVID-19 has begun to reshape our lives into what is being widely termed a new normal at a very phenomenal speed. Even the old dogs have to adapt to the new tricks which may have been unexplored because, let’s face it, who would have ever thought that the entire globe would be, in days or weeks have entire workforces working remotely. It has arguably been dismissed as a futuristic school of thought, something we may only do well into the full swing of the 4th industrial revolution, write DAVE BAAITSE and LERATO MOSIELELE.

Familiar ways of working are fast becoming obsolete, being able to be agile and adjust to the new normal is key, now more than ever. The life of a Mochudi Street Vendor who specializes in Beauty Parlour has significantly changed overnight.

Her ordeal began when government announced State of Emergency and a 28 day lockdown, technically crippling her small and fragile business which has the capacity to bring home at least P3, 000 home in a good month covering both her rentals and bills.

Talking to WeekendPost from Mochudi this week Tebogo Moara who also doubles as a make- up artist said she last had a meal four days ago. “I share a two and half with a colleague who is also a Street Vendor, our hopes at the moment were pinned on social workers but they have since turned their back on us. Life is tough, our electricity units at the moment reads 6.0 megawatts, and we have given everything to God now”.

Their confrontation with the social workers this week did not bear any fruits, after assessment they were told that they will receive a call same day. Upon realising that two days has passed they took it upon themselves to call but were told that they are abled women who could have known better that these situations do happen and could have saved for the future.

“We share a P1, 500 rentals which is already due but no answers are coming forth from government concerning rentals,” she said. As reality is kicking in, governments have had to swiftly formulate COVID-19 policies, to mitigate the further spread and transmission of the virus.

Travel is cancelled and non- existent especially cross border travel in our region leaving room for essential goods only. Life has come to a standstill, the entire world is needed to stay connected and aligned on various issues, including work, on communication platforms made to facilitate remote working.

A culture shift is inevitable as we navigate this new normal as we move into the future with different types of working environments. In hind sight, amidst the acute sense of loss, anxiety and insecurity COVID-19 has brought on all fronts one cannot ignore how the outbreak has brought some sense of unity particularly in terms of rapid responses to a global problem.

In a more intricate level, far beyond people introspecting and realigning their goals towards what really matters, people are more appreciative of locally made produce and are embracing a rebirth or reawakening approach to life.

The digital space is also bursting at the seams with innovations that are transforming our lives daily. Highly welcomed by all who love nature, a great improvement has been seen recently in terms of pollution or man and nature interference with Mother Nature replenishing the earth and reviving badly damaged ecosystems.

A new normal culture that may surely prevail when the dust settles on this front is surely to include working remotely. Companies eager to survive would need to set up and make adjustments for remote working conditions and maintain efficiency under these circumstances.

It’s time to think innovatively lest you perish. A famous pioneer once said, “Innovate or die”.  The way the world is going is such that only the tech savvy will survive as we enter the 4th industrial revolution (4IR).  Embrace tools to keep you connected to your clients and key stakeholders while enabling efficiency.

Virtual approaches will also, surely boom in popularity as we innovate to create experiences and engage in the virtual realm, as opposed to engaging physically, which goes against gatherings and other social distancing no nos.  Events of any kind have been put to an abrupt halt and this calls for innovative thinking to be able to still engage with audiences.

In reality, we cannot ignore the shift that has happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a shift that now leaves us with this “new normal”. The effects of the pandemic are said to be envisioned to be experienced by the world for at least the next year or so but the remnants of the pandemic, devoid of the apocalyptic effect it has had on the world, will see some elements of our lives improved like the way we work and think from an innovation point of view.

We are living in a moment of history.  It is up to all of us to adapt or be left behind by a fast moving world. While addressing the nation South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a few days ago said, “The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted your lives and damaged our economy.

Its severity will continue to take a heavy toll in the weeks and months to come. The pandemic has resulted in the sudden loss of income for businesses and individuals’ alike, deepening poverty and increasing hunger. The urgent and dramatic measures we have taken to delay the spread of the virus have been absolutely necessary. They have given us the space to better respond to the inevitable rise in infections and to thereby save tens of thousands of lives.

We are now embarking on the second phase of our economic response to stabilize the economy, address the extreme decline in supply and demand and protect jobs. As part of this phase, we are announcing a massive social relief and economic support package of R500- billion, which amounts to around 10% of GDP”.

Here at home many Batswana continue to criticize their own government for failing to cushion them during this crisis and coming up with rigorous policies that guide the lockdown. In his last public address President Mokgweetsi Masisi detailed a raft of financial interventions that include a loan repayment holiday of between three and six months for home and vehicle loans to cushion those affected by the lockdown. He also said the country would build up reserves including grain, water, medical supplies and fuel.

This week Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security, Mr Lefoko Moagi announced reduction in petroleum prices. He explained that the decrease on petroleum products prices was influenced by the general decline of international oil prices, which have been going down mainly as a result of reduced global demand driven predominantly by the slowdown of the world economy.

The price adjustment, which commenced on April 21 decreased retail prices for petrol grades by 13 thebe per litre, diesel by 10 thebe per litre and prices for illuminating paraffin decreased by 20 thebe per litre. Speaking during a press briefing, Moagi said the government would closely monitor the prices of petroleum products in both regional and international markets and make the necessary price adjustments every three months.

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Masisi to make things right with Dangote

26th October 2020

High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.

Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana.  “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.

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Dow wants GBV culprits isolated

26th October 2020
Unity Dow

As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).

Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.

Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.

The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”

Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.

According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.

Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.

“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.

Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.

“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”

The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.

In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.

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State ignores Butterfly P85 million suit threat

26th October 2020
Butterfly

The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.

Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.

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